Daniel 4

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1 `Nebuchadnezzar the king to all peoples, nations, and languages, who are dwelling in all the earth: Your peace be great!

2 The signs and wonders that God Most High hath done with me, it is good before me to shew.

3 His signs how great! and His wonders how mighty! His kingdom [is] a kingdom age-during, and His rule [is] with generation and generation.

4 `I, Nebuchadnezzar, have been at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace:

5 a dream I have seen, and it maketh me afraid, and the conceptions on my bed, and the visions of my head, do trouble me.

6 And by me a decree is made, to cause all the wise men of Babylon to come up before me, that the interpretation of the dream they may cause me to know.

7 Then coming up are the scribes, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers, and the dream I have told before them, and its interpretation they are not making known to me.

8 And at last come up before me hath Daniel, whose name [is] Belteshazzar -- according to the name of my god -- and in whom [is] the spirit of the holy gods, and the dream before him I have told:

9 `O Belteshazzar, master of the scribes, as I have known that the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee, and no secret doth press thee, the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation, tell.

10 As to the visions of my head on my bed, I was looking, and lo, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height [is] great:

11 become great hath the tree, yea, strong, and its height doth reach to the heavens, and its vision to the end of the whole land;

12 its leaves [are] fair, and its budding great, and food for all [is] in it: under it take shade doth the beast of the field, and in its boughs dwell do the birds of the heavens, and of it fed are all flesh.

13 `I was looking, in the visions of my head on my bed, and lo, a sifter, even a holy one, from the heavens is coming down.

14 He is calling mightily, and thus hath said, Cut down the tree, and cut off its branches, shake off its leaves, and scatter its budding, move away let the beast from under it, and the birds from off its branches;

15 but the stump of its roots leave in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field, and with the dew of the heavens is it wet, and with the beasts [is] his portion in the herb of the earth;

16 his heart from man's is changed, and the heart of a beast is given to him, and seven times pass over him;

17 by the decree of the sifters [is] the sentence, and by the saying of the holy ones the requirement, to the intent that the living may know that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of men, and to whom He willeth He giveth it, and the lowest of men He doth raise up over it.

18 `This dream I have seen, I king Nebuchadnezzar; and thou, O Belteshazzar, the interpretation tell, because that all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to cause me to know the interpretation, and thou [art] able, for the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee.

19 `Then Daniel, whose name [is] Belteshazzar, hath been astonished about one hour, and his thoughts do trouble him; the king hath answered and said, O Belteshazzar, let not the dream and its interpretation trouble thee. Belteshazzar hath answered and said, My lord, the dream -- to those hating thee, and its interpretation -- to thine enemies!

20 The tree that thou hast seen, that hath become great and strong, and its height doth reach to the heavens, and its vision to all the land,

21 and its leaves [are] fair, and its budding great, and food for all [is] in it, under it dwell doth the beast of the field, and on its boughs sit do the birds of the heavens.

22 `Thou it [is], O king, for thou hast become great and mighty, and thy greatness hath become great, and hath reached to the heavens, and thy dominion to the end of the earth;

23 and that which the king hath seen -- a sifter, even a holy one, coming down from the heavens, and he hath said, Cut down the tree, and destroy it; but the stump of its roots leave in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field, and with the dew of the heavens it is wet, and with the beast of the field [is] his portion, till that seven times pass over him.

24 `This [is] the interpretation, O king, and the decree of the Most High it [is] that hath come against my lord the king:

25 and they are driving thee away from men, and with the beast of the field is thy dwelling, and the herb as oxen they do cause thee to eat, and by the dew of the heavens they are wetting thee, and seven times do pass over thee, till that thou knowest that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of men, and to whom He willeth He giveth it.

26 And that which they said -- to leave the stump of the roots of the tree; thy kingdom for thee abideth, after that thou knowest that the heavens are ruling.

27 `Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and thy sins by righteousness break off, and thy perversity by pitying the poor, lo, it is a lengthening of thine ease.

28 `All -- hath come on Nebuchadnezzar the king.

29 `At the end of twelve months, on the palace of the kingdom of Babylon he hath been walking;

30 the king hath answered and said, Is not this that great Babylon that I have built, for the house of the kingdom, in the might of my strength, and for the glory of mine honour?

31 `While the word is [in] the king's mouth a voice from the heavens hath fallen: To thee they are saying: O Nebuchadnezzar the king, the kingdom hath passed from thee,

32 and from men they are driving thee away, and with the beast of the field [is] thy dwelling, the herb as oxen they do cause thee to eat, and seven times do pass over thee, till that thou knowest that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of men, and to whom He willeth He giveth it.

33 `In that hour the thing hath been fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar, and from men he is driven, and the herb as oxen he eateth, and by the dew of the heavens his body is wet, till that his hair as eagles' hath become great, and his nails as birds.'

34 `And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, mine eyes to the heavens have lifted up, and mine understanding unto me returneth, and the Most High I have blessed, and the Age-during Living One I have praised and honoured, whose dominion [is] a dominion age-during, and His kingdom with generation and generation;

35 and all who are dwelling on the earth as nothing are reckoned, and according to his will He is doing among the forces of the heavens and those dwelling on the earth, and there is none that doth clap with his hand, and saith to Him, What hast Thou done?

36 `At that time my understanding doth return unto me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honour and my brightness doth return unto me, and to me my counsellors and my great men do seek, and over my kingdom I have been made right, and abundant greatness hath been added to me.

37 `Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, am praising and exalting and honouring the King of the heavens, for all His works [are] truth, and His paths judgment, and those walking in pride He is able to humble.'


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Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream      

Napsal(a) Rev. Dr. Andrew M. T. Dibb

Floor mosaic of a the Tree of Life (as a pomegranite) from the Big Basilica at Heraclea Lyncestis. Bitola, Macedonia.

In the Book of Daniel, Chapter Four is narrated, after the events of the chapter, by a much-changed Nebuchadnezzar. In the internal sense, the story shows both the Lord's mercy in leading us, and also the depths of despair to which we sink before we willingly open our minds to the Lord and pray for His leadership.

At the beginning of the story, Nebuchadnezzar's idleness imitates the sense of complacency when things seem to be going right, when no temptations darken our skies, and essential selfishness asserts itself once again. Our mind is its house, its palace. We come into this state after a temptation or battle against our sense of selfishness, when we put the struggle aside and rest on our laurels. We are oblivious to the fact that regeneration is an ongoing state, that one temptation succeeds another, and that once conscience has been established in our thought processes, it will not be too long before the lethargy of selfishness is challenged.

While Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in his house, he had a disturbing dream, one unknown to him. As before when he did not understand his dreams, he called the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans and the soothsayers, who, once again, could not interpret the dream.

Often we feel that we face the same temptations over and over again. We might wonder if we will ever regenerate. This is because we fall into a state of selfishness, represented by the king at rest. But when we encounter resistance to that selfishness, we turn back to all our old thought patterns to help us.

Eventually, Nebuchadnezzar called Daniel to tell him his dream. As he recounts the story after the seven years of illness, he uses the words he had spoken before. He addresses Daniel as Belteshazzar, because that is how he saw him before the temptation. Even so, he recognized the presence of the Spirit of the Holy God within him, acknowledging Daniel's power to explain dreams and give interpretations.

The king's second dream took the image of a great tree, planted in the earth, so high it could be seen from the ends of the earth. This parallels the image of the great statue, whose head was gold. As we saw earlier, this image represents the initial state of perfection, followed by a decline as a person turns away from this ideal. The statue shows how self love takes dominance in our lives if unchecked, and brings us into a final state of spiritual destruction.

In this new dream, the tree in the midst of the earth is a reference to the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of Eden. Both trees symbolize wisdom. The Tree of Life represented the perception the Most Ancient people had from love (Arcana Coelestia 103), but Nebuchadnezzar's tree is from the love of self and the different perceptions people have when motivated by that love (Apocalypse Explained 1029:6).

But when Nebuchadnezzar saw the tree in his dream, it was lovely. Everything in the dream which normally has a good and beautiful significance, instead takes on a negative meaning. The leaves and flowers, which should have been a picture of guiding truths (Arcana Coelestia 9553), represent the opposite, as the falsities which mislead us. We saw how the king called his false guides: the magicians, soothsayers, astrologers, and Chaldeans.

The birds represent the false thoughts from selfishness (Arcana Coelestia 5149). These give credence to selfishness, to justify it and find new ways to express it. So the tree takes on an intellectual picture of the selfish mind. But the mind is made up of both intellect and emotion. There were also beasts sheltering under the tree representing the things we care about.

When selfishness rules in us, just as Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon, all the lesser loves take their cue from this leading love. Thus the beasts of the field, were drawn to the tree for food and shelter.

After this scene is set, Nebuchadnezzar sees "a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven." The introduction of the indescribable watcher is the turning point in the dream, marking the beginning of the end for this marvel reaching up to heaven.

In a state of selfishness, we are spiritually asleep, just as Nebuchadnezzar was asleep when he dreamed. But the Lord never sleeps. Truth in our minds is always vigilant, looking for ways of bringing itself to our consciousness to lead us out of our selfish state. Just as everything seemed right in Nebuchadnezzar's world, he became aware of a watcher—the truth.

In an instant, the king's serenity was changed: a force greater than himself commanded the destruction of the tree, and there was nothing he could do about it. These words make it clear just how vulnerable our selfish states are. At their height, they seem so powerful, but in the face of truth they are shown for the sordid little nothings they are. Truth has the power to expose evil, and we should not be afraid to allow it to do so in our own lives. To stand indicted of selfishness is not the end of life, as it may feel, but the beginning of a new life of liberation.

But we still need some sense of self. There is nothing wrong with being concerned with our own well-being; it is vital to our lives. Selfishness is a part of us, but it needs to be kept under control, subordinated to the higher loves of serving the Lord and our neighbor.

This is why the watcher did not order the complete destruction of the tree: the stump is all that is left of a rampant selfishness, the bands of iron and brass represent thoughts and feelings which originate in selfishness, which can be used to keep it under control (Apocalypse Explained 650:32).

Finally, with the tree destroyed, Nebuchadnezzar himself had to be changed. The watcher commanded that the king is given the heart of an animal for seven years. In substance abuse recovery programs, it is said that an addict cannot change until they hit rock-bottom—when they realize the full necessity of change. In spiritual life, this rock bottom is a point at which we almost lose our humanity, we are so dominated by selfishness, greed and the lust of dominion that we lose our ability to think rationally. We become animals. The difference between humans and animals is our ability to think and act in freedom. Self-love destroys that freedom, thus destroying all humanity within us.

In this prophesy, we see a descent: from man, to beast, to ox. People are human because they are created in the image and likeness of the Lord. Thus human beings have the ability to think and act according to reason. This is the essence of our humanity (Arcana Coelestia 477, 2305, 4051, 585, 1555). When these are in tune with truth and goodness from the Lord, then we are truly human, because the image of the Lord is in us.

So again, we see this slide from an ideal to a lesser state: from man, the king became a beast. From rationality and freedom, he entered slavery. This fall appears earlier in the Word: when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they were cast out.

Finally he was told that he would eat grass like oxen. In a positive sense, oxen represent our affections (Arcana Coelestia 5198, 5642, 6357), or our love of the things of this world. But the opposite meaning of 'ox' is the perversion of goodness (Arcana Coelestia 9083), and the affection for injuring others (Arcana Coelestia 9094).

This humbling of the king represents the proper use of the love of self, and shows that the Lord does not eradicate it, because it is the foundation of true relationships with other people and the Lord Himself. But before it can become useful, selfishness needs to be converted into a humbled love of self, and we must return from the ox state.

As Daniel explained the meaning of the dream, he offered the king counsel: 'break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.' This is the next step in spiritual awareness. Seeing our selfishness, coupled with an increased awareness of the Lord, we reach the point where thoughts must become actions. At first glance, the concept of 'sins and iniquities' may seem redundant. But in the Word, pairs of synonymous words reflect two internal senses: the celestial and the spiritual (Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 80). The celestial relates broadly to goodness, and the spiritual to truth. Together they make one.

Daniel's advice to Nebuchadnezzar is to repent. Repentance is the only way out of the quicksand of selfishness. The Lord taught that we should love one another as He loves us (John 13:34, John 15:12). To love ourselves alone, and to wish to control others is not in keeping with the Lord's teachings. The only solution is to listen to the voice of our conscience and allow ourselves to be guided by the truth.

In spite of everything, Nebuchadnezzar's pride was not reduced. As he walked around his palace, his heart was filled with pride: 'is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?'

A selfish person believes that everything they own or have accomplished is by their own power. There is no place for God or anyone else. When people do not listen to the Lord's teachings and reject His counsel, there is nothing the Lord can do but allow the person to reap the consequences of their choice.

The king remained in this ox-state until seven times passed over him, which illustrates that the Lord leaves us in this state until it runs its course. Sometimes it takes us a lifetime to see how our selfishness hurts others, and ourselves. Yet the Lord never leaves us. The promise of the root of the tree, bound with bands of iron and bronze is always there. The Lord works unceasingly to bring our selfishness under control until it can serve the higher loves of our neighbor and the Lord Himself.

Forgiveness begins in the recognition that we are in sin. In his ox-like state, Nebuchadnezzar lifted his eyes to heaven. Eyes represent understanding (Arcana Coelestia 2975, 3863), and to lift them to heaven is to lift our understanding to the truths the Lord has given us. The king had been given some truths in his dreams and in the interpretation of them. He knew from Daniel's advice that he needed to repent and change his ways. As he did so, his understanding and appreciation of the Lord grew. He realized how small he was in the grand scheme of things. The inflated ego of selfishness was deflated by the recognition that all things had been given to him by the Lord.

His story is our story. We each build our empires in one way or another. We hold the power of life and death over others in a figurative sense—do we not decide who we like and dislike, who is admitted out our 'inner circle' and who is beyond the pale? The warnings the Lord gave to Nebuchadnezzar apply to us, and like the king, we can also ignore them. The consequences in our lives are the same, as we are reduced to a merely animal-being, wet with the dew of heaven.

Yet can we hear the Lord's voice calling, for unless we do, we will remain in that state. Can we lift our eyes to heaven and search for the truth leading to the greatest declaration one can make, provided it is done with the heart and not with the lips:

Now I … praise and extol and honor the king of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and his ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase.


Hlavní výklad ze Swedenborgových prací:

Apocalypse Revealed 717

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 175

Další odkazy Swedenborga k této kapitole:

Arcana Coelestia 274, 290, 395, 728, 776, 1326, 3301, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 47, 60, 158, 173, 474, 567, 757, ...

Doctrine of the Lord 40, 48

The Last Judgement 54

True Christian Religion 93, 644

Odkazy ze Swedenborgových nevydaných prací:

Apocalypse Explained 109, 204, 257, 650, 662, 1029, 1100

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 3

An Invitation to the New Church 22

Marriage 93

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 30, 31

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Významy biblických slov

Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful king of the Babylonian empire. His fiery furnace and his dreams of the great tree and of the great statue are...

In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

'Height' signifies what is inward, and also heaven.

'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

At its heart, wisdom is love's imperative desire to take form. That's a tricky statement, but think of it this way: If you love someone,...

'Interpretations,' as in Genesis 40:22, signify prediction.

'Soothsayers' were people who studied natural magic.

making known
In natural language the word "manifest" simply means to make something clear or obvious. A unique use, in fact, has to do with shipping; a...

The book of Daniel follows after Ezekiel in the Old Testament. Daniel was a prophet during the early part of the captivity of the Jews...

The book of Daniel follows after Ezekiel in the Old Testament. Daniel was a prophet during the early part of the captivity of the Jews...

These verbs in the Bible indicate a conflict between two spiritual states, and the effort it takes to attain the higher state. It's easy to...

'To tell' signifies perceiving, because in the spiritual world, or in heaven, they do not need to tell what they think because they communicate every...

A tree in the midst of the earth
'The tree' in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, in Daniel 4:7-14, represents the church which later became Babylon.

The hand in the Bible represents power, which is easy to understand, so to reach out or stretch out the hand means to exercise power,...

In the Bible, things that are lower down, or under, physically, generally represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases, the...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

'To move' denotes living.

‘To grow’ signifies to be perfected.

The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

'Perversity' signifies the evil of falsity.

To walk in the Bible represents living, and usually means living according to the true things taught to us by the Lord -- to "walk...

To build something generally means to put together a variety of simpler pieces to make a useful and more complex structure, as to build a...

'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

'Sufficiency' relates to the reception of good, because good is the spiritual nourishment of the soul, as natural food is the nourishment of the body.

There's a great deal of talk in Swedenborg about "truth" as a concept – it's how we learn the Lord's will, what we must seek...

These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

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